Expecting the unexpected: What drivers need to know about Cape Girardeau car accidents

urban-accident-27210-m (1).jpgEvery single day, car accidents happen in fractions of seconds. Of course, no one expects to be involved in a collision, and thus many drivers find themselves completely overwhelmed in the aftermath of a crash - especially when they're dealing with serious physical injuries along with the emotional trauma often experienced by accident victims. Would you know what steps to take if you were involved in a crash? As Cape Girardeau car accident attorneys, we want you to be equipped with the information you need to protect yourself, just in case the unexpected happens to you.

Being prepared for a Missouri car accident:

• The best offense is a good defense. It's an old cliché, but it's especially applicable when it comes to roadway safety. Take simple steps to ensure you're driving responsibly: wear your seat belt; avoid distractions; don't drink and drive; don't travel too fast for conditions. Unfortunately, taking these measures won't guarantee that you'll be able to avoid every potential accident, but they will give you better odds. What's more, if a collision does occur, your chances of escaping serious injury are much higher.

• Carry your insurance card with you at all times. Apart from being good common sense, it's also Missouri state law. Also, it's a good idea to keep a pencil and notepad in your vehicle so you can write down important information. After a collision, if you're physically able to do so, you'll want to record the other driver's name, address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance info.

• Take some time to program important phone numbers into your phone. These numbers should include your medical providers, your car insurance company, and your emergency contacts, etc. You might consider downloading the ICE (In Case of Emergency) app for your Apple or Android devices: among other things, the app allows you to store your emergency information on your phone's lock screen, just in case you are incapacitated in an accident.

• Your top priorities should be getting yourself out of harm's way and calling 911. If possible, you'll also want to move your vehicle out of the roadway so it doesn't cause a secondary crash. Also, it's crucial that you move away from the road to exchange information with other drivers. Many accident fatalities are caused when drivers leave their vehicles following minor accidents only to be struck by other oncoming vehicles.

While you'll want to collect contact and insurance information from other drivers, passengers, and witnesses, we advise that you avoid commenting on the accident to others. Accidents are upsetting, and it's common for drivers to say things like "it was partly my fault," simply because they're trying to be kind. Admitting to any measure of fault - especially when you are not the at-fault driver - can potentially cause problems for you in pursuing a personal injury claim.

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More winter weather forecasted for Missouri this weekend: Motorists urged to take precautions

file000432759829.jpgOver the past couple of weeks, Missouri had its first real taste of winter weather this season, which created hazardous driving conditions throughout the state - and the forecast is calling for more snow and ice statewide this weekend. Because serious traffic accidents are more likely to happen in these dangerous driving conditions, safety officials at the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) are urging motorists to check travel conditions before hitting the road - you can do so by checking out MoDOT's Traveler Info Map, by downloading their app, or by calling 1-888-ASK-MODOT. Of course, if possible, it's best to avoid travel altogether during winter weather. If you have to drive in wintry conditions, however, our Cape Girardeau car accident lawyers encourage you to take precautions.

An important first step is to ready your vehicle for snowy and icy roadways before the weather even arrives. Make sure your car has a good battery, fresh antifreeze, a properly working exhaust system and motor oil that can stand up to the cold weather. Officials also recommend that you check your tires to make sure that they're in good condition, that you have enough windshield wiper fluid, and that your windshield wipers are in good condition. With the proper safety precautions, we'll all have a better chance of avoiding car accidents that occur due to weather conditions.

Again, it's best to avoid driving until the roads are plowed, safe and passable. If you absolutely must drive in dangerous conditions, here are a few reminders that can help you get to your destination safely:

Best practices: Winter driving tips

• Obey all speed limits. They're there to keep motorists safe.

• Use common sense behind the wheel. Adjust your driving habits to current road and weather conditions.

• Never pass a snowplow, and allow these vehicles plenty of room to operate safely.

• Always wear your seat belt.

• Be extra careful when driving when the temperature is near 32 degrees. That's when it's the most dangerous to be out on the road, especially on bridges and overpasses, which are the first to freeze.

• Keep an eye out for disabled vehicles.

• Be sure to keep your lights, windows and mirrors clean during winter conditions.

• Never attempt to pass another vehicle when you're on or near a bridge.

• Always keep your gas tank at least half full.

• Always drive with your lights on.

• If you're uncomfortable driving in the weather conditions, pull over, park in a safe place, and wait for weather and roadway conditions to improve.

• Leave early and allow yourself extra time to get to your destination. Remember, it's better to arrive late - and safe - than not at all.

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Car accidents and brain injuries: Resources for victims & their loved ones

file4041249270482.jpgAs Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers, we know that brain injuries are a common consequence of auto accidents. According to the Brain Trauma Foundation, there are currently at least 5.3 million Americans living with disabilities resulting from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and an estimated 53,000 more die from TBIs every year. Sadly, motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of these life-altering injuries.

A brain injury can change everything in just a matter of seconds. How we think, how we function in our daily lives, how our bodies' systems function, and even our personalities can be instantly altered by a brain injury. Our brains are the most complex organ in our bodies: no two brains are alike, and accordingly, no two brain injuries are alike. In other words, a brain injury is just as complex as the brain itself. Factors like the cause of the injury, the location of the injury in the brain, and the severity of the incident can change how the injury impacts the injured person.

In the field of medicine, the severity of a brain injury is often predicted - the more severe the injury, the less improvement can be expected. In the aftermath of a brain injury, severity is typically measured by the length of the coma, the duration of the loss of consciousness, and/or the length of post-traumatic amnesia. However, the location of the injury can sometimes be a stronger indicator. For example, a TBI that involves damage to the brain's frontal lobes can be extremely debilitating, as the frontal lobes are involved in "motor function, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgment, impulse control, and social and sexual behavior."

In the legal field, the severity of a TBI is measured by its impact on a person's day-to-day life, and what it means in terms of loss of function, disability, or the need for life-time care.

A brain injury can be very obvious or very subtle. Sometimes there are no visible physical impairments or losses. A common myth is that "if a person looks okay they are okay." A person with a brain injury can seem okay in every way. However, brain injuries can present with all sorts of deficits in very different areas, from personality trait changes to memory loss to depression and malaise. Also, under certain circumstances - like significant emotional trauma, or time-based multi-tasking requirements - these deficits can become very apparent. Even if memory function tests, IQ tests, or neuro-exam results are "normal," a brain injury can still mean deficits are present and life has changed forever, both for the injury victim and for his or her loved ones.

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Elderly drivers and car accident risks in Missouri

file7171271364977.jpgAs baby boomers mature, the population of older drivers is growing larger. In fact, within the last decade, the number of older drivers has increased by more than 20% nationwide: in 2012, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were about 23.1 million licensed drivers age 70 and older. Here at home, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety reports that people age 65 and older comprise almost 18% of Missouri's licensed drivers.

Unfortunately, it's a fact of life: there are several unavoidable symptoms and conditions that accompany old age - and some of these can dramatically increase an older driver's risk of being involved in an auto accident. Old age can often cause a loss of coordination, cognitive function, or eyesight, along with a decline in other skills. When motorists start experiencing these symptoms, it may be time for them to stop driving - for their safety, and for the safety of others on the road.

It's certainly not easy conversation to have with a parent or grandparent, but it's crucial to talk with your older family members regularly to ensure that they're still able to safely operate a motor vehicle. If you think they might be at risk because of an age-related condition, experts encourage you to speak up, even though it might be a tough subject to address. Ultimately, however, remind yourself that you're bringing up the topic in the interest of your loved one's safety and well-being.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asks you to consider these questions to help evaluate if you or a loved one should retire from your driving career:

• Are you getting lost when taking a familiar route?

• Are you finding new scratches or dents on your vehicle?

• Are you getting ticketed for a number of driving violations?

• Are you finding road signs or road markings to be suddenly overwhelming?

• Do you find yourself driving too fast or too slow for no apparent reason?

• Are you getting into car accidents or often near-misses?

• Are you currently taking medications that suggest that you refrain from operating a motor vehicle?

• Have you received recommendation from your doctor to stop or reduce driving?

• Do you have health problems that could affect your driving ability?

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"Hard Core Drinking Drivers" pose significant threat to motorists in southeast Missouri, nationwide

bubbles-1442466-m.jpgDrinking and driving continues to be a significant cause of car accidents right here in Cape Girardeau and throughout Missouri. It's dangerous to drink any amount of alcohol before getting behind the wheel, but safety experts say "hard core drinking drivers" pose a significant threat to motorists nationwide. In this post, our car accident lawyers discuss habitual drinking drivers and their impact on roadway safety.

Hard Core Drinking Drivers defined:

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) defines a hard core dinking driver as someone who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.15 percent or greater; or someone who is a repeat offender with one or more drunk driving arrests or convictions in the past ten years. According to the NTSB, these hard core drinking drivers are involved in more than 70 percent of the alcohol impaired car accident fatalities.

Drinking and driving: The facts

• One alcohol impaired driving fatality occurs about every 45 minutes in the United States.

• In 2012, 214 people were killed and 3,510 were injured in Missouri accidents involving alcohol. That means one person was killed or injured in an alcohol related accident every 2.3 hours throughout the year.

• Nationwide, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol impaired driving crashes - that's about one fatality every 51 minutes.

• Between 1982 and 2009, 251,000 people have been killed in accidents involving hard core drinking drivers.

• Of all drivers arrested or convicted of driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence of alcohol, one-third are repeat offenders.

Furthermore, the Missouri Highway Patrol reports there are strong indicators that drinking and driving is under-reported. Alcohol indicators are not always obvious in serious accident situations, and sometimes injuries cause the same symptoms as alcohol intoxication. Sometimes there isn't enough evidence of an alcohol infraction to arrest someone. Ultimately, it's likely the numbers listed above are low and do not indicate the full impact of the problem.

Hard Core Drinkers in Missouri

The Highway Patrol, along with local law enforcement agencies, regularly conduct alcohol sobriety check points throughout the year, and they often conduct special enforcement projects during holiday traveling periods. This year is no exception.

With the holiday season upon us, it's imperative that drivers take special care not to put themselves and other motorists in jeopardy. If your holiday plans include alcohol, make plans in advance: arrange for a designated driver, call a cab, or stay where you are. Someone's Merry Christmas just might depend on it.

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Certain roadway emergencies commonly cause Missouri car accidents, injuries

looming-clouds-over-road-175108-m.jpgSometimes, Missouri car accidents simply can't be avoided, but the vast majority of crashes are entirely preventable. It's important to be aware that certain roadway scenarios commonly cause drivers to panic and react without thinking, making crashes even more likely. Knowing what to do in these situations can be lifesaving - for you, your passengers, and other motorists on the road. In this post, our Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers discuss three common driving emergencies and offer some tips to help you handle these scenarios safely.

Driving Emergency #1: Deer

Most Missouri drivers know that colliding with a deer can be extremely dangerous. The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that approximately 275,000 car/deer collisions occur in the U.S. every year, and an average 200 people are killed as a result of these accidents. Car/deer collisions tend to be most common during deer mating season in November, which is just around the corner. If you see a deer along the road, your best bet is to slow down: deer tend to travel in groups, so if there's one in the area, you can assume others are nearby.

So, what do you do if a deer darts in front of your vehicle? Safety experts say that it's often best to hit the deer, rather than jerking the wheel instinctively and swerving out of your lane: trying to avoid the deer can cause a rollover accident or a collision with another object, like a vehicle or tree. If impact can't be avoided, stay calm, grip the steering wheel with both hands, apply the brakes firmly, and bring your vehicle to a controlled stop.

Driving Emergency #2: Tire blowout

A tire blowout can be extremely frightening, which is why many drivers panic and react poorly - often by slamming on the brakes. If you experience tire trouble, resist the impulse to brake suddenly: instead, ease off the accelerator and allow your vehicle to slow down gradually. Then, gently steer your vehicle to the side of the road.

After slowing, the NSC recommends rolling the car off the road rather than stopping in the middle of traffic and risking a rear-end or side-impact collision. Be sure to turn on your emergency flashers. If you can change the tire safely, do so - if not, you should call for assistance. As the NSC points out, "changing a tire with traffic whizzing past can be nerve-wracking at best and dangerous at worst."

Driving Emergency #3: Skidding

Turning abruptly, changing lanes suddenly and hard braking can cause your vehicle to skid - especially when these maneuvers are attempted at higher speeds or on slippery roads. Safety authorities agree that the best way to handle this scenario is remove your foot from the gas. Then, instead of yanking the wheel in the opposite direction (which can lead to over-correction), turn gently in the direction you want the vehicle to go, taking care not to over-steer.

When you feel your vehicle regain traction on the roadway surface, straighten out your wheels. Again, the key is to stay calm and work to bring your vehicle under control.

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Speed a common contributing factor in Missouri car accident injuries

September 10, 2014

DSCN8171.jpgHere in Missouri, speed was a contributing factor in 286 fatal accidents and 6,546 injury crashes in 2012 alone. These accidents resulted in 320 deaths and over 9,700 people injured. According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for roadway conditions is a leading cause of serious car accidents throughout the state. As Cape Girardeau car accident lawyers, we know first-hand that speeding can prove to be a dangerous, often deadly mistake.

In 1995, the National Highway System Designation Act repealed the national maximum speed limit, which cleared the way for individual states to determine their own speed limits. In the 17 years that followed, 35 states - including Missouri - increased their maximum speed limit to 70 miles per hour. Studies have shown that increased speed limits don't necessarily cause a higher number of car accidents - but they definitely produce more serious crashes.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), speed can affect car accidents - and their resulting injuries - in three basic ways:

1. Speeding vehicles travel a greater distance in the time between the moment a driver recognizes an emergency and the moment the driver reacts to that emergency.

2. Speeding vehicles require more time and space to stop following the moment a driver hits the brakes.

3. Speeding vehicles create more crash energy. When a collision occurs, the crash energy created must be managed by the vehicles involved, their restraint systems, and roadway fixtures like crash barriers. The greater the speed, the greater the crash energy produced: for example, if impact speed increases from 40 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour, the crash energy also increases - by a staggering 125%. Thus, when crashes occur at high speeds, the crash energy can be too severe "that the vehicle structure cannot withstand the force of the crash and maintain survival space in the occupant compartment."

When a collision involves a car and a pedestrian instead of two vehicles, the effect of impact speed is even more directly tied to the level of injury. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety determined that the average risk of severe injury in a pedestrian collision increases dramatically with impact speed:

• If impact speed is 16 mph, the pedestrian injury risk is 10%.
• If impact speed is 31 mph, the pedestrian injury risk is 50%.
• If impact speed is 39 mph, the pedestrian injury risk is 75%.
• If impact speed is 46 mph, the pedestrian injury risk is 90%.

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After a Cape Girardeau car accident: Four tips to remember

car-crash-1432754-m.jpgAs personal injury lawyers, we understand that the aftermath of a car crash can be confusing and overwhelming. After all, car accidents tend to happen when we least expect them, and it's common for injury victims to feel like their lives have been suddenly turned upside down. And with more traffic in the road, accident risks increase for Missouri motorists during the summer months ahead. In this post, we share four basic steps to help you ensure your rights and interests are protected. Knowing what to do before an accident occurs can save you time and stress, should the unexpected happen to you.

Four important steps to take after a southeast Missouri car accident:

1. Assess your injuries and seek medical treatment. First and foremost, you'll want to check for injuries to yourself, your passengers, and any other parties involved in the crash. If anyone needs immediate medical attention, call for an ambulance - and if you're in doubt, err on the side of caution. Depending on the extent of your injuries, your medical treatment might involve a visit to the ER, Urgent Care or your family doctor. In any case, you'll want to seek treatment as soon as possible following the accident. Be sure to explain all of your injuries and pain in detail. Often, injury victims focus on the injuries that hurt the most, and as a result, the medical records may not reflect the full scope of their injuries.

2. Call the police and file an accident report. An accident report is extremely important - and useful - for three basic reasons. First, it contains the name and address of each driver involved and provide the name of each driver's insurance company. Second, it documents the circumstances surrounding the crash and offers the police officer's conclusions about how the accident happened and who was at fault. And third, it outlines certain facts about the collision, including weather and road conditions.

3. Gather and preserve important evidence. Take photographs of your injuries, your vehicle, and - when possible - the accident scene. Keep a journal that details your medical treatment and your recovery process. Save any paperwork you receive that's related to the crash, including medical bills, letters from insurance companies, receipts, etc. Finally - importantly - keep all of these materials together in a folder or binder to ensure no evidence is lost. These materials can play a key role in personal injury claims.

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Springtime brings an increase in Missouri motorcycle accidents

speed-of-motorcycle-1016169-m.jpgSpring is here, and many Cape Girardeau motorcyclists are now back on the road, taking advantage of the warm temperatures. Sadly, at this time of year, Missouri law enforcement officials and emergency rooms consistently report an increase in motorcycle-related injuries and fatalities. Within a two-week period in late March, five people were killed in motorcycle accidents in the St. Louis area.

Sadly, all too many springtime accidents involving motorcycles are completely preventable.This spring, our auto accident lawyers want to remind drivers in southeast Missouri to always look twice for motorcycles: after all, many car/motorcycle collisions occur because drivers simply don't realize motorcycles are traveling near them until it's too late. What's more, motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable to serious, life-threatening injuries when they're involved in accidents with larger vehicles. In this post, we share a few tips to help drivers avoid these dangerous accidents.

Avoiding motorcycle accidents: Tips for Cape Girardeau drivers

1. Think of any motorcycle in motion as a PERSON, not a vehicle. They have much less protection than you do in your vehicle in the event of a traffic accident: there's virtually nothing to shield riders from the force of impact with another vehicle, or with the pavement.

2. Remember, motorcyclists can be harder to spot than other kinds of vehicles. Make it a habit to look left - right - left, especially when pulling out of a driveway or making a turn.

3. Keep an alert eye out for motorcycles when changing lanes or passing trucks: a motorcycle can be masked by a larger vehicle or disappear into a blind spot.

4. Often, motorcyclists don't use their brakes to slow down - and therefore, there will be no telltale brake light to warn you. Keep a safe distance behind motorcycles.

5. Motorcyclists frequently adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to steer clear of road debris or passing cars. In other words, they are not moving over to allow you to share their lane. Just like any other vehicle, motorcycles are entitled to an entire lane.

This season, please stay alert and drive safe! Motorcycle accidents can be prevented and lives can be saved, provided we each act responsibly and drive with a bit more care.

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Missouri rollover accidents often caused by drivers swerving to avoid deer

mjzL2gM.jpgAccording to State Farm, the country's largest insurer of private passenger automobiles, there were over a million car-deer collisions in the U.S. between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011. Here in Missouri, drivers were involved in an estimated 28,096 collisions with deer during the same time period. (Missouri was also ranked the 19th most dangerous state for this kind of accident: the likelihood that a Missouri driver will collide with a deer is 1 in 150, compared to a national average of 1 in 193.) The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that these accidents result in approximately 200 deaths, 10,000 injuries and $4.6 billion in costs every year.

Our Poplar Bluff car accident lawyers urge motorists to be extremely cautious, as many Missourians regularly travel through areas where deer are abundant. Car-deer collisions are most likely to happen in the fall (during mating season) and the spring (when fawns are born, and deer are moving about to search for food). Dawn and dusk are the most dangerous times of day, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), because deer are active, traffic is heavy, and roadway visibility can be limited.

These collisions can have all manner of troublesome consequences. The Insurance Information Institute (III) says "the average claim for deer-vehicle collisions is $3,100, with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of the damage, up 1.7 percent from a year ago." Not only are these accidents costly, they're also extremely hazardous: car-deer collisions regularly cause serious injuries and fatalities. In fact, these accidents often turn dangerous and even deadly when a motorist swerves to avoid hitting a deer in the roadway.

Injuries resulting from many car accidents involving deer aren't caused by impact with the deer, but by the crashes caused when drivers attempted to avoid the deer. Russ Rader, IIHS spokesman, says this chain of events is a common one. "These crashes happen so fast, often times drivers don't have the option of making a decision about what to do," Rader says. "But the best thing, unfortunately, in most cases is to hit the animal and try to avoid swerving or doing something that could cause you to lose control and hit somebody else or an object or go off the road and roll over."

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Remember bicycle safety as temperatures warm in southeast Missouri

bicycle-crossing-sign-1431139-m.jpgAfter this last round of winter weather, it's great to have a nice day in Cape Girardeau! More spring days will be here before we know it, and after the winter we've had, many Missourians are itching to get back outside. If you're planning on riding a bicycle either for transportation or enjoyment this year, it's a good idea to refresh your memory about safe riding practices. In this post, our auto accident lawyers share four facts about bicycle accidents, and we encourage drivers and cyclists to work together to share the road safely this spring.

Four facts about bicycle accidents in southeast Missouri and nationwide

1. Many bicycle accidents happen in intersections. It can be difficult for motor vehicle drivers to see bicyclists, since bicycles are smaller and can easily disappear into blind spots or blend into the scenery. It's also common for drivers to misjudge a bicycle's speed and distance. When passing through an intersection, use extra caution and signal your intentions - never assume a driver sees you. Also, remember that bicyclists are required to follow the same traffic laws as other drivers, so you must obey all traffic signs and signals.

2. Road hazards can be especially dangerous for cyclists. Since bicycles have thin tires and can be relatively unstable, certain roadway obstacles can be disastrous. Be on the lookout for potential hazards like potholes, sewer grates and railroad tracks, which commonly cause cyclists to lose control and crash.

3. Bicycle-related injuries can have serious, long-term consequences. According to 2005 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists resulted in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $5 billion." Serious bike accidents can include road rash, contusions, broken or fractured bones, and traumatic brain injuries.

4. The best way to avoid a bicycle-related head injury is to wear a safety helmet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that bicycle safety helmet use is 85 to 88 percent effective in reducing head and brain injuries. In fact, according to NHTSA, "wearing properly fitted bicycle helmets is the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes."

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Ride safe this spring:10 tips to help you avoid Cape Girardeau motorcycle accidents

missouri-map-215800-m.jpgThankfully, warmer temperatures are on the horizon, and many of our local motorcyclists are preparing to get their bikes out of storage and hit the open road. It's a great time of year to take a moment to remind yourself about the importance of safe riding practices. In this post, our Cape Girardeau auto accident lawyers discuss ten key tips to help you ride safe in 2014.

Ten Safety Tips for Missouri Motorcyclists

1. Check your bike before you ride. Especially if your bike has been in storage during the winter months, you'll want to make sure all its systems are in good working order before you hit the road.

2. Wear your protective gear, including helmet, gloves, boots, jeans and safety glasses. As many riders know all too well, we lack the protection of an enclosed vehicle, so there's virtually nothing between us and the pavement. Nothing, that is, except our safety gear, so it's crucial to dress smart. Head injuries are especially common in motorcycle accident victims, so a helmet is essential. It's Missouri law, and it just might save your life.

3. Stay visible: don't linger in other vehicles' blind spots. Often, other drivers simply aren't watching out for motorcycles, and many don't realize we're there until it's too late. Motorcycles can be harder to see than other kinds of vehicles, so a key part of safe riding is making sure we stay visible.

4. Use the SEE method: Search for potential danger, Evaluate potential hazards, and Execute proper action to avoid the hazard.

5. Watch for dangerous obstacles like slick pavement, loose gravel and roadway debris. These obstacles, which can be a mere nuisance for other drivers, can be deadly for motorcyclists.

6. Use extra caution in intersections and when turning left. The majority of motorcycle accidents occur when riders are passing through intersections or executing left turns - even when we have the right of way. Use extra caution, and again, never assume another driver sees you.

7. Don't follow too close in case you have to perform an emergency maneuver. If a roadway emergency presents itself, you'll want to have as much time and space as possible to react safely. Never tailgate.

8. Know how to handle passengers. Carrying a passenger will change the way your motorcycle handles. If you're not used to riding with someone else on board, be sure to get plenty of practice before riding in traffic.

9. Carry a balanced load: pack and secure your saddlebags safely. Here again, added weight can change the way you ride. Pack sensibly and make sure the weight is distributed evenly and secured properly.

10. Be patient and enjoy the ride. Remember, when riding, the journey is the destination. Take your time and enjoy having your boots in the breeze. Doing so will help ensure you have a safe, enjoyable ride.

We wish our area motorcyclists a happy riding season! For more information about motorcycle advocacy and upcoming events in our area, please check out our team's motorcycle blog, Ozarks on Two Wheels.

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Teen car accident risks: Facts and statistics for Missouri parents

crashed-car-921217-m.jpgNumerous studies have shown that teen drivers are particularly at risk for car accidents resulting in injury, both here in Missouri and nationwide. In this post, our Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers share ten facts and statistics about teen drivers and the various factors that contribute to these often-serious crashes.

Teen drivers and car accidents: Ten facts & statistics Missouri parents should know

1. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. The CDC reports that per mile driven, drivers between ages 16 and 19 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than drivers age 20 and older.

3. An estimated 25% of teens in 9th through 11th grade have been involved in a crash resulting in injury within their lifetimes.

4. Because they lack driving experience, studies show that teen drivers are more likely to "underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations" than older drivers. Teen drivers are often more likely to speed and less likely to wear their seat belts.

5. In crashes caused by a teen driver's error, 21% happened due to a lack of scanning to detect and react to hazards; 21% happened because the teen driver was traveling too fast for roadway conditions; and 20% happened after the driver was distracted by something inside or outside the vehicle.

6. Distractedness is a prominent - and dangerous - problem among teen drivers. In a survey conducted by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 48% of teen respondents said they talk on a cell phone, at least occasionally, when they're behind the wheel. And 40% of American teenagers say they have ridden with a driver who used a cell phone in a dangerous way.

7. In a national government pool on risky behaviors, 58% of high school seniors admitted that they had texted or emailed while driving within the last month.

8. Alcohol is a contributing factor in many accidents involving teen drivers. Teens have a higher crash risk than older drivers at all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In a 2011 national survey, nearly one in four teens said they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking within the past 30 days.

9. Nighttime is an especially risky time for teen drivers to be on the road. The fatal crash rate for 16 year-old drivers is almost twice as high after dark.

10. Parental involvement is key to preventing teen accidents. Teens who say their parents set ground rules for driving and stayed involved in their driving education are half as likely to cause an accident.

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Give one pint of blood: Save three lives!

aid-box-911442-m.jpgHere at Aaron Sachs and Associates, our car accident lawyers were honored to sponsor the 2014 KFVS Heartland Blood Drive, which set a new record for collections. The Red Cross collected donations at seven locations across the Heartland (Cape Girardeau, Dexter, Poplar Bluff, Perryville, Sikeston, Carbondale and Marion), and this year, the blood drive set new records for collections. A total of 1,550 people donated blood, which garnered 1,441 productive units, shattering the goal of 1,100!

However, there's still a tremendous need for donations. This season's severe winter weather has forced the cancellation of several Red Cross Blood Drives, and many donors simply haven't been able to get out in these icy, cold conditions. We'd like to encourage you to get out and give blood, or to contact the Red Cross about hosting a blood drive of your own.

Why give blood? Facts and statistics to consider:

• Giving just one pint of blood can ultimately save up to three lives.

• In the Missouri-Illinois region, the Red Cross needs to collect almost 800 blood products every single day in order to keep up with demand in our area.

• Every two seconds, a person somewhere in the United States needs blood, which means that more than 41,000 donations are needed nationwide each day. In all, 30 million blood components are transfused in the U.S. every year.

• Since red blood cells have a shelf life of only 42 days, blood supplies must be replenished constantly.

• One car accident victim may need as many as 100 pints of blood.

• All blood types are needed, but the Red Cross has special need for donors with type O negative blood, as it can be transfused to anyone, regardless of the recipient's blood type. Type O is particularly essential in emergency situations, when there simply isn't time to cross-match a recipient's own blood type. Only seven percent of Americans have type O negative blood.

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Drunk driving and Missouri car accidents: 5 sobering facts for Cape Girardeau motorists

drinking-girl-462282-m.jpgIt's no secret that alcohol and driving are a dangerous, often deadly combination. And yet alcohol remains a "significant contributing factor in Missouri's traffic crash experience, especially as it relates to crashes involving death and injury," according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. In 2011, someone was killed or injured in an alcohol-related crash every 2.3 hours throughout the year, the Patrol reports: in all, 208 people died and 3,625 suffered injury in Missouri accidents involving drunk drivers. In this post, our Cape Girardeau personal injury lawyers present five startling facts about driving under the influence.

Drunk driving and Missouri car accidents: Five facts

1. Your risk of being involved in a deadly car accident increases with every alcoholic beverage you consume. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), "fatal crash risk increases substantially after 0.05% BAC and climbs more rapidly after o.o8%."

2. Your level of impairment is determined by the amount of alcohol you consume, not by the type of drink you consume. While many people believe that beer and wine are less dangerous than hard liquor, the fact is that there is a similar amount of alcohol in a 12 ounce beer, a four ounce glass of wine, and 1.25 ounces of 80 proof liquor.

3. Young drivers, motorcyclists and motorists with prior DWI convictions are especially at-risk for involvement in alcohol-related auto accidents. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals the following:

• Of drivers with BACs at or above the legal limit who were involved in 2010 fatal accidents, one out of three were between the ages of 21 and 24.
• 28% of motorcyclists who died in 2010 crashes had BACs of 0.08% or higher.
• Drivers with BACs at or above the legal limit who were involved in 2010 fatal accidents were four times more likely to have a past DWI conviction on their records than drivers with a 0.00% BAC.

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